Lots of ladies notice that when they are starting
to struggle with their pelvic floor or bladder symptoms they’ve also notice that their abdominal
muscles are not as good as they used to be anymore and I think those two things are connected
and they want to improve their abdominals muscles for cosmetic reasons, but I want them
to improve their abdominal muscles to help to give more support to the organs from the
front and to keep those pressures from getting too low in the pelvis. So I’m a Pilates instructor
as well as a Physiotherapist and I’m going to show you a few of my favorite Pilates exercises
to get at that lower bit of your tummy, this bit we can do later it’s this bit you need
to prioritise too. So my favourite position is to lie on your side, because when you lie
on your side, I’m sorry but your tummy hangs out more. Can you feel it? Don’t lie like
this in a bikini! but it means that you can really feel the difference between your upper
abdominals and your lower abdominals. We want to get
our brains tuning back in to what’s going on low down here. At the bottom here the muscles
don’t run up and down the front so much as side to side, so if you can use these muscles
they’re going to pull you in like a good pair of pants, but if you’re not using them, your
going to have a sagging out tummy at the front and a sagging out pelvic floor underneath.
So find your tummy muscles with your finger tips and let them hang out. And then we are
going to do that same breath. We are going to say breathe in to get ready and your tummy
will swell a bit, as you breath out draw the lower belly in towards you, just half of what
you could do and make sure you can breathe. It won’t feel like you are doing anything
very exciting, just breathe, but when you let go it’s going to fall away. Yes, you can
feel that quite deeply. So same again, find your tummy muscles with your fingertips, let
them hang out on purpose. Breath in gently, let them swell a bit. As you breath out draw
the lower belly in towards you like putting on good pants, hold and breathe and breathe
and then when you let go it will fall away, lovely. Right, now this time we are going
to get you to draw your pelvic floor muscles up at the same time but I will queue you.
So let your abdominal muscle hang out completely, breath in first let them swell, as you breathe
out draw the lower abdominals in – nice knickers at the front and do your lift and tuck of
the pelvic floor underneath back, front and sides and now hold them both and breathe.
And it won’t feel very interesting, but when you let go you’re going to get the abdominals
and the pelvic floor relaxing. So you’ve already got the skill. Yes, yes. Now in real life
you need to be able to hold those muscles in all day as part of your posture. Not tight,
tight , tight so just a little bit of posture at the front and underneath to give some support.
But in real life we can’t just breathe you’ve got to be able to move. So think how many
times a day you would move your arm, like loads, lifting things, putting things away,
closing your car boot, but you could move your arm up and down while doing absolutely nothing
with your middle if you wanted to. Yes, oh yeah. And that’s the habit a lot of people
have got in to but we’ve got to break that habit. So what we are going to say is leave
your arm up there, let your tummy muscles hang out, breathe in gently let them swell
a bit. As you breathe out, draw the lower abdominal muscles in towards you, light lift
of your pelvic floor and breathe. Now keep that feeling and lift your arm right up overhead
and back down again. Have a little breath if you’re short on breath, keep your tummy,
lift up, and back down. Check on the pelvic floor muscles, stretch up and down and one
more. Lift up and down, now anybody looking thinks it’s an arm exercise but if you let
your abdominals go, it’s an abdominal exercise and a pelvic floor exercise as well. Yeah,
and you can feel that quite deeply. But it takes a lot of thinking to do, this this this
and that. Yes. Now to make it more real I find it helps to have something in your hand.
It doesn’t have to be heavy but it could be and you will just find it keeps your elbows
straighter and it works your arms. I’m just kind of a multi task kind of girl, so we are
going to do it now and we are going to bring in the breathing exercises as you move as
well. So let everything hang out, breathe in gently let it swell, as you breathe out
think lower abdominals in at the front, light lift of the pelvic floor like a gusset underneath
and breathe. And then ideally you are going to go out when you lift and you will always
breathe in again as you come back down. So on the way up think, abdominals in, pelvic
floor and now keep them as you come back down. Blow out to lift and you will always breathe
in again, just think tummy pelvic floor. One more, back down and then it’s only when you
stop and you let go that you realise that you’ve been working what we call the core
as well. And it doesn’t need to be more exciting than that because in real life you don’t want
to feel you are doing it, your just wanting to do it in the background. So make yourself
practice a few times with your arm until you’ve got the hang of it and then a little bit trickier
is to move your leg. So if I take the ball, you can now feel your tummy muscles with your
own hand, which is quite nice and we are going to use the leg as the weight. So if you keep
your feet together but lift your knee, that’s a nice few kilograms lifting up and down there.
And again you could happily move your leg up and down while doing very little here if
you wanted to or we’re now going to train it all to work together. Start with your knees
together, let your tummy muscles hang out and you are going to think to yourself, breathe
in first, let everything swell. And as you breathe out think lower abdominlas, light
lift of the pelvic floor, make sure you can breathe. Now say to yourself it doesn’t matter
what my leg does I’m keeping my core. So good knickers, lift your knee up and now this is
the trickiest keep the abs but put your knee down. It takes a bit of thinking. Pause, lift
your knee up, think abdominals, lift your pelvic floor and knee down and then ideally
your going to blow out when you lift, and you will always breathe in again on the way
down. So you don’t have to think about it. So blow out and lift and now think tummy think
pelvic floor on the way back down. Two more, blow out and lift and back down. Keep the
tummy through the whole thing, one more, lift and back down. And then let go. It’s quite
tricky. It is. But if you can teach yourself to hold and breathe and move that’s what real
life is like. Yes and you can really feel it, really very deep inside. And focus down
low. Yeah and good for a flat tummy. Very good for a flat tummy, that’s the bonus.

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